OVERCOMING TEMPTATION AND LUST (LESSON 2)

The lesson tonight will be on overcoming temptation and lust. Why is it important to "overcome" temptation? Because all of the sins that you ever committed in the past or will ever commit in the future first began as a thought in your mind, an idea, a temptation. And if you can learn to overcome that temptation in the first place, you will be able to avoid doing those things that lead to you sinning and being disobedient to God.

Temptation is like a small fire. But even the smallest fire left unchecked and not doused with water can turn into a blazing inferno that destroys everything in its path. Some of the biggest fires of all time all started from a tiny cigarette carelessly thrown out of a window while it was still lit or left burning while someone fell asleep in their bed. The only way to be safe is to not leave that fire burning! And the only sure way for us to not give in to sin is for us to "put out" that temptation while it is but a mere thought.

*Sometimes the biggest sins start out very small. You might think, "I'll just go along for the ride. I'm not going to do anything." Then you end up being part of some criminal activity with your buddies. Or maybe you think, "I can handle myself. I know when to quit." And then you end up in a situation too deep, unable to quit even though down deep you want to. Again, temptation is fire. And if you play with fire, you are going to get burned.

Have you ever given in to some temptation, and before you knew it you were committing one sin after the other? Then eventually that one thing led you so deep into trouble and so far away from God that you were asking yourself, "How did I get here"? Well, that is what happened to a man in the Bible that we are going to read about. We are going to use his mistake to show you why it is important to overcome sin at the beginning. We will see that sometimes just one tempting look is all it takes to get you into some serious sin. Now let's read about King David's temptation and its consequences.

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* 2 Samuel 11:1-2, "And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon."

So here we have King David. This is the same David who as a teenager had fought and was victorious over the Philistine giant Goliath. David was a man whom God had used to lead and win many great battles. David wrote much of the Book of Psalms. But now David seems to be slacking. There was yet another battle going on that David should have been leading, but instead he sent Joab. At this point, David is just kind of hanging out at the palace. And when he sees a beautiful woman down below taking a bath, instead of turning away, he continues to look. Let's see where that one look led...

2 Samuel 11:3-4, "And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house."

Instead of being at battle, David is busy being a peeping Tom. Then David inquired after Bathsheba. Now, as soon as David found out that Bathsheba was a married woman, he should have put on the brakes there. But instead he sent for her. So one sin has lead to another. First he lusted after her or coveted her. Then he broke God's law and committed adultery with her.

Do you see how temptation has a way of taking you deeper and deeper into sin and farther and farther away from God? How many marriages have been broken up because a spouse became too friendly with their co-worker? Maybe it starts with a look, then a compliment, then a shared lunch, then eventually they are at some motel committing adultery! All sin starts somewhere. Sinful thoughts later become sinful actions. Again, that is why we must overcome temptation and lust before sin is conceived. We must not let the beginning of sin even take root in our hearts and minds. Well, back to David...

 * David and Bathsheba, both married to other people, have committed adultery. Now Bathsheba has gone back home. Maybe David and Bathsheba thought they were slick. Maybe they believed they had gotten away with their adulterous liaison. How many people here have in the past committed a sin and thought you "got away with it" because you didn't get caught? Well, another reason it is important to overcome temptation before it leads to sin is because the Bible tells us in Numbers 32:23b, "Be sure your sin will find you out." Does anyone know what that means? It means you never get away with sin. Your sin will always find you out or come back to you. Even if no one here on earth sees you commit your sin, God sees it. You can't hide any sin from God no matter how clever you think you are. And you will have to give an accounting to God one day when you die. Now let's see how David and Bathsheba's sin found them out. As we will see, their sin showed itself in a very tangible way.

2 Samuel 11:5, "And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child."

See, David and Bathsheba didn't get away with their sin. Now Bathsheba is pregnant -- living proof that she and David committed adultery. And her husband Uriah has been away at battle, so he's going to know that it is not his baby. Yes, their sin has found them out!

* Now, you would think that David would at this time ask for God's forgiveness and try to make this situation that he is in better. But instead he adds sin on top of sin. 2 Samuel 11:6-9, "And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king's house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house."

David thought he was slick. He was giving Uriah the night off. He was hoping Uriah would go home and have sexual relations with his wife Bathsheba. And then Uriah would think that Bathsheba was carrying his baby. David was trying to be crafty in order to cover up his sin. And how many of us have done that same thing? Instead of repenting, asking God's forgiveness, and taking responsibility for our actions, we only make things worse by continuing to lie and deceive.

Well, Uriah was a good soldier and servant, and, as we read, he didn't go to his own house. But David tries again: 2 Samuel 11:12-13, "And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and tomorrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house."

David is trying so hard to cover up his sin. He even got Uriah drunk, hoping Uriah would go home and sleep with his wife Bathsheba. But the cover up didn't work. Uriah didn't go.

Sadly, what David was trying to do is no different than what this world that we live in is always trying to do. This world encourages us to cover up sin and evil. We try to cover up the sin of alcoholism and drug use by calling it a "disease" or an "addiction." If we fornicate or commit adultery and become pregnant, we try to cover up our sin by having an abortion so that we can kill our baby, and the world has given us the legal right to do so. If you want to disobey God's standards of what a normal relationship is and instead have a homosexual relationship, the world helps you to cover it up by calling it an "alternate lifestyle." Then they throw you a parade and tell you to be proud.

Yes, this world and the people in it have found many, many ways to cover up sin. And all of those things work for a while, and you feel pretty good about giving in to temptation and lust. But, remember, God's word tells us that your sin will find you out. Remember that all sin is visible to God, and if you don't admit your sins and turn from them, God will hold you accountable. And even if God forgives you, your life might still bear the scars of your sin. That is why you must do all that is within your power to overcome temptation before it turns into sin. Anyway, let's get back to David. David is about to sink even deeper into sin. He's about to commit murder.

* 2 Samuel 11:14-15, "And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die." David knows that if Uriah is in the frontlines on the battlefield, that he will be killed. David has basically just signed Uriah's death warrant; he has put out a hit on Uriah's life!

2 Samuel 11:16-17, "And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also."

Now Uriah is dead, and it is all because of David. King David went from looking to lusting to fornicating to now committing murder. Because David did not overcome temptation and lust, he has been led down a path of sin and betrayal and destruction. Things will never be quite the same in David's life again. David has brought hell to his house. He has displeased the Lord: 2 Samuel 11:26-27, "And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord."

* We don't have time to tell you everything that happened to David and Bathsheba's family. But because of what they had done to Uriah, heartache and shame followed them for the rest of their lives. The baby Bathsheba carried died. Later another of David's sons, Absalom, first betrays his father in many ways and then is killed. David's daughter Tamara is raped. David's household faced tragedy after tragedy.

Now, David was still used by God. God can use anyone. And God forgave David when David confessed his sin and asked for forgiveness. But the point is that things were never the way that they might have been if only he would have overcame the temptation in the first place. It is important for us to overcome temptation and lust BEFORE we sin because that way we will be spared from the consequences of our sin. For example, a man who cheats on his wife might get a second chance if he ends the adulterous relationship and asks for his wife's forgiveness. But that same man might still have contracted the AIDS virus from having that "affair." And although he is forgiven, he will still suffer and die from AIDS. Or a person who commits a crime may ask for and receive forgiveness from God, yet still have to serve the sentence imposed on him by the courtroom judge. Or if you have an abortion but later ask God to forgive you, God will forgive you. But your dead baby is going to still be dead! And you will have to live with the choice you made.

People, do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from sinning. Sin carries with it a price that you do not want to have to pay! As a matter of fact, the Bible gives us this dramatic illustration of the importance of getting rid of those things or people that would cause us to sin: Matthew 18:8-9, "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire."

There may be some people that you need to stop spending time with. There might be a hobby or pursuit that you need to quit doing. Maybe you have a computer or VCR that is making you stumble. Well, it is better to have fewer friends, less hobbies, and less entertainment than to be ensnared in and burned by sin. Remember, sometimes just one look is all it takes. So be cautious about where you set your eyes, and be on guard so that you can overcome temptation and lust. Proverbs 4:26-27, "Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil." 

* And if you are in the middle of sin right now, do what David finally did. Confess it to God and seek God's forgiveness. Say a prayer to God perhaps similar to David's: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight" (Psalm 51:1-4a).

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